EP 7: Saying Yes to Myself

Episode Description:

In this episode, the Hope4Med podcast speaks with Pharmacist Christine Manukyan and explores her journey to becoming bold and unapologetic.

Connect with our guest, Dr. Christine Manukyan
Website: https://www.drchristinemanukyan.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-christine-manukyan/

Transcript:

Dr. JB: Ever wish for a safe place to have conversations that need to be had? A place where you could say the things that need to be said? Well, welcome to Hope 4 Med. This is Hope 4 Med, med. New day for med, med. For us, by us, and just for us. This is Hope 4 Med, med. This is Hope 4 Med, med. New day for med, med. For us, by us, and just for us. This is Hope 4 Med, med.

[00:00:38] Welcome back, everyone to Hope 4 Med, this is Dr. JB. Today we have a special guest, her name is Dr. Christine Manukyan. She is a functional medicine practitioner as well as a business coach, author, speaker, and the host of a top-rated podcast called STORRIE. Welcome, Dr. Manukyan.

[00:01:02] Dr. Manukyan: Thank you so much for having me. This has been such a pleasure to get to know you and to be able to share my story, my journey. I’m sure we’re going to make something that impacts in so many lives, so thank you for having me.

[00:01:14] Dr. JB: Yes. Thank you. I’m so excited that you’re here, um, and I guess we can just start from the beginning. So tell me, you are a pharmacist, correct?

[00:01:24] Dr. Manukyan: Correct. I have my Doctor of Pharmacy, back in the day, um, graduated from pharmacy school at Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, class of 2007, and then pursued two years of residency at Ohio State, which I believe you were in Ohio at some point, I wonder if we were in the same place. Yeah, but I did, um, two year residency at Ohio State and, uh, my main focus was focusing on leadership so I got my master’s in health system pharmacy administration while pursuing my PGY-1 and PGY-2 pharmacy residency at Ohio State. Getting into the pharmacy administration space because I just did not fall in love with one space of health, I guess. I didn’t want to be a cardiologist specialist or pediatrics or oncology. I was like, I love everything, you know? One way I could make a huge impact in so many lives was if I had some leadership skills because then you’re affecting every single person who’s walking in the doors in the hospital that I would be practicing.

[00:02:26] So, that’s the route I decided to take and has been such an incredible rollercoaster ride, and I say a roller coaster because constantly changing who I am as stepping into different leadership roles within the organization. I quickly finished my residency and literally a week later I started my first and last job, um, being in management position at Cedar Sinai here in Beverly Hills in California. So, I say first and last job because that’s where I spent my next 11 years, um, in one place with different leadership roles.

[00:03:04]Dr. JB: As soon as you finished your residency, you went straight into a leadership position?

[00:03:11] Dr. Manukyan: I did, yeah. During my residency, I knew I was going to come back to California, um, I loved Ohio it was nice, but I did not feel like it was home and I didn’t want to go back to Florida where my family was because, you know, pharmacy practice in Florida was not, you know, it’s not as advanced as far as, uh, what we can or cannot do with our license. So, I wanted to go back somewhere that I know pharmacists perform at the top of their license and that was California, where I used to live. Um, and I think it was just a coincidence too, maybe fate, bringing me together with my husband now and he’s also a clinical pharmacist in a management role here in California. So I said, you know what? He’s not going to move, I’m going to go to him, and the rest is history. Yeah.

[00:03:57] Dr. JB: And so what was your day to day like as a pharmacist in California? What exactly were you doing?

[00:04:04] Dr. Manukyan: Well, I’m not going to forget to tell this because I would spend two and a half, three hours in my car and driving 11 miles to work. This is something that I did not realize, I was like, oh my gosh, so it’s, it’s happening? I have to go to work 11 miles to take me hour, hour and a half to get to work. But once I overcame that of like, okay, this is my new norm, um, I don’t have any other options, right? This is what’s going to happen every single day, spending three hours in my car, away from my family.

[00:04:38] But, um, in my first job, I actually, within the hospital, was I was actually overseeing a regulatory department. So I was the regulatory and compliance officer, which means any regulations that happen, all those policies and procedures that we all have, have in place, all the, um, decisions that we make of formular, what medications to give, and who gets it, and just overseeing the, you know, our policies and procedures for our inpatient and outpatient services and making sure if there’s a joint commission or CMS or mortar pharmacy knocking on our doors, we’re ready for inspection. So it was very brutal because not only I had to know the law, but I also needed to translate the law, which is so vague, into real life and then making sure our policies and training that we have for our staff is matching what they should be doing on day to day operations.

[00:05:33] So it was interesting, um, and you know, so I spent a lot of time reporting directly to our chief of pharmacy. And really my day was mostly, I would say, project based. So maybe one time we were working into implementing new services and making sure we’re compliant, and maybe the following day is literally doing something that has to do with budget. So it was very open and literally I didn’t have a same day that was like structured,  you know? Things will come up all the time. It was very stressful and I feel like that that’s, what’s kind of like, you know, as my career was climbing, I feel like my stress was getting higher and higher, and more responsibilities. And during that time, I also became a mom, a new mom with the little ones at home, and just trying to figure out life, you know?

[00:06:21] Dr. JB, I know we always talk about healthcare, you know, burnout, and it’s a lot that we handle. And from outside, I had all my things together, right? I was like performing top of my department and doing great, but inside I was like slowly dying because my health was declining, and also I was just not happy. I was not happy of what I was doing as a parent because spending two hours at home with your little ones, it’s not considered parenting, you know? I was just there, you know? And I think that’s when we kind of came to the point of like asking myself, like, okay, I keep taking a higher positions. I keep growing my, you know, financial, you know, like getting those raises, but like, who am I as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter or as a friend, like at home? You know?

[00:07:15] And I had to make that big decision and, you know, after being in the different, you know, leadership roles, um, I decided to take my own life and put a pause on my quote unquote “career,” climbing the career ladder, and really starting to embrace my life, and saying yes to me. Um, and that was when I was the age of 35, extremely burnt out. That time I had two little ones already and finding myself in my doctor’s office, getting my physical and having my doctor tell me that, you know, if I don’t lose weight, which I was morbidly obese, um, if I don’t correct my cholesterol, i.e. take the cholesterol lowering medication. I was given a script for Lipitor to take to fix it with no other guidance, lifestyle changes, and trying to manage my stress and sleep better, again no guidance. It was just like, I have to do all these things like a little check box. You know, “I told her this, I told her that,” and she said, “if you don’t do all the steps and I’m telling you now you’re going to have a heart attack by the time you turn 40.” And that was a bad little wake up call for me seeing, like, what is it that I’m doing? What matters to me most?

[00:08:27] And I remember that day, walking out from the doctor’s office saying like, I’m not going to take this pill. I’m one of those pharmacists who’s like anti-pharmaceuticals, I don’t want to take anything. And I was just really throwing myself out there finding like a better way, trying to figure out these answers without just like putting like quick little patch and like, okay, here’s a pill, it’s going to fix everything. No, there’s no magic pill. You have to start within and you have to really understand why you’re doing this and really being open to new opportunities, how to change your life.

[00:09:01] And that solution to myself was falling in love with holistic health and functional medicine, which now I know, like I get to teach other people how to live this lifestyle, right? But I started with me first saying, I’m not going to become a statistic, I’m not going to take this medicine as a quick little patch. I’m going to figure out a better way. I’m going to figure out your lifestyle that I can not only become the best version of myself, but also I can maintain for the rest of my life and be seen in my family of like healthy, holistic lifestyle versus mommy’s on a diet, you know what I mean? And really understanding like, my life matters the most, and this is the time for me to rewrite my story. And it’s never too late to start that, it’s never too late to start that.

[00:09:46] So, that was the introduction to me, um, fall falling love with the non-traditional medicine and holistic health, and one of the biggest things that also impacted my life during this time as I was going through my extreme burnout, going through this extreme exhaustion, and I had to make a decision to step down from my management role. It was actually one of the scariest decisions because now people that I used to manage, I’m actually now one of them. Right? So you can just imagine how awkward it was going to be, how different it was going to be. And now somebody that I’m actually training to take over my position is going to be my boss. So learning again from scratch of like, okay, I’m not their boss anymore, but I’m, I’m their colleague. But guess what? There was not that vibe anymore in the same place, because I used to be their boss, do you really think they’re becoming my friends? No, absolutely not.

[00:10:52] So kind of going to work and feeling even more isolated was like a whole thing I had to learn again, like how to become this new, you know, how to step into this new identity. I haven’t changed, just my title changed. But a lot of people, they saw me at work they’re like, oh, like, she stepped down, oh my gosh, like she couldn’t handle the stress or like just letting go of those noise and those like conversations. I’m like those don’t–titles don’t define me. They don’t tell me who I am. Right? Ask me how I’m changing my life. Ask me how my relationship has improved with my spouse because I’m happier, I’m healthier, I’m more energetic, I’m not grouchy anymore. I have more patience with my kids, I don’t, I’m not getting home like yelling at them for no reason because mommy is frustrated and tired and, you know what I mean? And I was like, ask me how that’s going versus like, “oh, she couldn’t handle the stress, she had to step down.” You know what I mean? So it was just very different journey I had to learn to get into, but I’m telling you, it was one of the best decisions I made because it really changed my life. And as a result of me changing my lifestyle, saying yes to myself, I not only lost over a hundred pounds but also became a bodybuilding fitness athlete. I actually started doing bodybuilding. I was on stage as Wonder Woman and really embracing this transformation of becoming this new person who is not afraid of challenges, you know?

[00:12:29] Dr. JB: So were you exercising and doing all those things before? Like, were you into weightlifting or this all started after the age of 35?

[00:12:38] Dr. Manukyan: Oh my gosh, started after 35.

[00:12:40] Dr. JB: Wow that is impressive!

[00:12:42] Dr. Manukyan: I had never been at the gym because I was very intimidated by the, just the whole concept of the being in the gym. You know, I had no idea, I’ve never had a personal trainer, nothing. And when I started surrounding myself with other folks who are going through the same, like life transformation, you know, I found a community, a tribe of women who are doing this together and we were just kind of like each other’s biggest cheerleaders. And when I saw these women transform their lives, and now they’re talking about bodybuilding, I’m like, what does that mean? And they’re like, oh, we got to lift weights, we got to do this. I’m like, what? Like, I don’t know how to use this machine, but now to answer your question, I actually started at age, like, like almost 36 because it took me a while to kind of like, understand like, okay, weight loss is great, but let me take this to the next level. And it taught me discipline and taught me, you know, um, consistency, which was non-negotiable and yeah, I was on stage, um, at age 37 and just follow me on social media, you’ll see my pictures with my six-pack, like fricking six-pack.

[00:13:49] Dr. JB: Wow.

[00:13:49] Dr. Manukyan: I was like, are you kidding me? Is this what’s possible? And that just really taught me, not only learning like what I’m capable of doing, but also becoming a voice for other women who are going through this life transformation and telling them, you know, don’t give up, like, keep going and finish what you started. It was hard. It was brutal. I had to get up at like 4:30 in the morning, get ready, be at the gym at 5:00 AM when they open. Again, no excuses, right? Work out for like an hour, rush home, change, shower, change into my scrubs, and go to work. So I made it happen, I made it possible, and this is what’s possible when you turn your excuses into your “why.”

[00:14:34] And when I realized that’s what was holding me back, I was full of excuses. Again, “I don’t have the time.” “I don’t have the energy.” “I don’t have, let’s say the money to hire extra, you know, personal trainers, if I want to get the good ones that have paid a couple thousand dollars.” Again, excuses over excuses over excuses, you know?

[00:14:55] And I just remember, like once I finished the bodybuilding fitness shows, I did a couple more afterwards and I was like, okay. I tackled all this. What’s next? What’s in the story for her, like what’s her next chapter? And that’s when I said I’m going to run a marathon for my 40th birthday. And when I said those words out loud, I was like, terrified. Terrified, but I knew this was a different challenge I had to accomplish, again mentally, you know, you can do anything, your body, it’s all mental.

[00:15:29] And I just remember making that decision and looking at the calendar and I’m like, oh my gosh, on March 8th of 2020, there’s the LA marathon. This is the marathon I want to run. It falls on Women’s– International Women’s Day and me being an immigrant, um, I said, this is the day I want to run. This is the day I want to cross the finish line, celebrating every woman who has been in struggle, like every woman who has gone through some life transformation and becoming that voice for them and crossing that finish line.

[00:16:03] Last year, during the global pandemic, which was like literally the last race before the world got shut down and, you know, celebrating my 40th birthday last year, too, like really owning my story, and saying, you know, everything happens for a reason and everything happens the right time. Like we may not realize it at that point, but there is always a reason why certain people come into your life, at certain times, and the impact they’re going to make in your life. So that was my gift to myself for my 40th birthday, crossing the finish line at LA marathon and making history.

[00:16:39] Dr. JB: Man, I– all I can say is your story is so amazing. It really, really is. Um, you know, because you really took on the challenge of “no, I’m going to take care of myself.” Right? I have been going down this path, um, you know, going from school to a residency, focused on leadership, taking on leadership and responsibilities, you know, lots of responsibilities. We talk about compliance and, uh, JCo [Joint Commission] and all that stuff. Right? And then realizing how it was affecting you personally. Right? And you have– you’re, you’re married, you have children, and feeling like you are there physically, but are you really present? For those hours that you are able to spend with your family, are you truly present? Are you in the moment?

[00:17:35] And so many of us have similar experiences. You know, you go to work and work just takes so much out of you that you get home and you’re just, you’re just, you’re just done. Right? Um, but then you have other people who are really excited that you’re home. They want to do stuff with you and you’re just so tired um, and then you feel guilty, right? And there’s all this guilt, you know, “oh, I should be doing this,” “I should be doing that,” or “I wish I was here for this or that,” that you also have to juggle along with the other stressors you have at, at your, your work.

[00:18:17] Dr. Manukyan: And I was going to say like constantly getting the “no” from your boss when there’s like important milestones or days in your personal life. Like “yeah, kids are starting school, I would like to actually physically take them to school” or, “hey, this is their first field trip” and constantly getting the answer “no” because we’re so highly trained, and for them it was like, “well, I don’t have people who can fill in your shifts because you’re so specialized.” I’m like, then hire someone so I can train them. Right?

[00:18:45] But getting this constant “no” and missing out on those important days of my life, I’m like, I did not watch my kids like really grow up. Like I was, like you said, I was there, but I was not fully present. And it kind of breaks my heart to know that. You know? Like this is what in traditional medicine, people who are in health care, this is what we all go through. You know? We hire childcare, we do all these things, we’re showing up for other people, but at home I’m like, it is not what I signed up for. You know what I mean? Like, I just missed out on all those things and I missed out on so many first experiences. I’m like, I can’t get those back. I can’t, you know? It’s just so sad. It would have to be, the system is broken. So hopefully the next generation will have a better way of doing both, you know?

[00:19:37] Dr. JB: Mhmm, and that’s what we’re trying to do with Hope 4 Med is, is fixing things for tomorrow. Right? And some of us may be able to reap those benefits of tomorrow, um, you know, if we’re still actively practicing, um, in the healthcare setting, but if not, then we fix it for the future. So that when there’s somebody that says, “oh, I want to be a pharmacist when I grew up,” they’re not told “run away, don’t do it.” Did you ever hear that?

[00:20:10] Dr. Manukyan: Oh my gosh. Yeah, actually people ask me right now, like, will I recommend going into pharmacy? I say “no.” And it’s not because I don’t like the profession. I just don’t see where we should be like right now. And this is not the right time to start, because again, the system is broken, because so many people think like, oh, you’re going to make a good salary, this amount. I’m like, but you don’t understand the burnout that happens behind the scenes because nobody wants to tell that because then it’s making them vulnerable to be like, oh, this is real life, right? You’re on rotation, you meet your preceptor, your preceptor is not going to be like “run, I’m telling you, like, oh my God, I hate my life, this is so hard.” They’re going to be like, they’re going to just focus on like doing their job, quote unquote, and just showing you like “the beauty of it,” right?

[00:20:57] It’s like, oh, are you going to make six figures, you’re going to do this, you’re going to do that. I’m like, no, tell these young students, especially now, like the real life. You know, I was sharing this with my friend the other day, too, like, you know, especially pharmacists right now who work in retail setting. Like they are under so much pressure, so much like discomfort, like mentally and physically. They’re, like I have people that I know in my close circle, like adult females, are wearing diapers, adult diapers, to their 12 hour shifts because they don’t have the time to step away to go to the bathroom.

[00:21:33] Dr. JB: Are you serious?

[00:21:35] Dr. Manukyan: Yes, it is insane. Adults with no problems are wearing adult diapers because again, they don’t have the environment that really allows them to close the pharmacy for a few minutes to go on a lunch, because in between patients, they are giving COVID shots. In between patients, they’re talking to doctors getting clarification. In between patients, they are doing counseling and they’re on the phone, or they’re on insurance phone call for like an hour trying to figure out why insurance is not covering a critical medication for their patients. Right? We’re the last step.

[00:22:10] And guess what? The patient’s standing in front of you, you’re not going to tell them like, “oh, come back later” or “we’ll just figure it out tomorrow.” No, they’re on your face, they’re right there, and they’re frustrated. They’re frustrated with the outcome and if you’re not helping them right there and then, you know, it’s just gonna escalate. It’s gonna get even worse. So yeah, there are people that I know they’re not doing, you know, the, they don’t have their time to sit and enjoy their lunch or get alone, go to the bathroom. All these women, a lot of my friends, they get this, like UTIs all day long. Like every couple of months, like, “oh another one,” they already have the scripts on refill because they just know what they need to take. I’m like, what?

[00:22:53] So I say, don’t go into, you know, traditional pharmacy yet, um, give us some time. I say, hopefully the next five years, and I’m being very optimistic, in the next five years; we are starting a movement, a lot of clinicians like myself, we started a movement and really bringing into skills that you will not learn in school and content that you will not learn in school, and bringing that into this new space of like how to practice medicine using traditional medicine and also non-traditional, which is functional medicine/holistic health. So when the world is ready for us to shine, I think that’s the time to go into medicine. But right now, if someone tells me to go into pharmacy, I’m like nope, can you do something else for a couple more years and then go to the school?

[00:23:40] Because I want to tell them the truth, there are just way too many schools opening up left and right, left and right. Again, the schools, they want, they want to be in business, schools are very expensive, and there’s not enough jobs. And the jobs that you are getting, they’re not fulfilling. They’re not what they used to be when I was graduating, you know? The world has changed and I think it’s changing too fast and we have not prepared for that change, for that movement, and it’s going to take us a couple of years to get there. So, that’s my long story of why not to get into medicine right now.

[00:24:18] Dr. JB: Yeah, I guess I wanted to delve into that a little bit further in terms of how things have changed. The world of being a clinical pharmacist in the past, how is that different today?

[00:24:32] Dr. Manukyan: A lot of them is driven by insurance companies and, you know, like I was talking about how I was in the hospital setting, making all those decisions along with our team, what we want to do, but if the insurance company is the one driving us, what, are we going to get paid at the end of the day? Like we’re making decisions that we don’t even like. Quote, unquote, it’s not the “best answer.” We’re kind of forced to make those decisions because at the end of the day, the hospital needs to survive. We cannot go bankrupt, right? So we have to bring in these services that are not the best of the best. But that’s all we can settle with because again, some, somebody is dictating us how to practice medicine.

[00:25:15] And they, they used to not be as bad as it is now, but especially now when everything is shifting to telemedicine, a lot of people are shifting into virtual space, the laws that were written like several years ago, they’re not applicable now because again, the world is changing. But oftentimes we found ourselves like, “oh my God, I want to do this, but I can’t.” “I want to give this to my patient, but I can’t.” Because my boss is going to call me in their office saying like, “hey, Christine, what were you thinking approving an order from a doctor that’s costing $20,000 per dose, did you look at all the other options, did you see?” You know what I mean? But I know that one pill is going to probably change their life and maybe it will reduce the length of stay in a hospital, but just because of we have, again, rules and regulations and you have to comply with them. This is the time where you’re just like, “well, I’m just going to say ‘no’ even though I know it’s not the best thing,” and having those conversations with the physician too, saying like, “I know you want to order this for your patient, I have it in stock, it’s like I’m literally staring at this medicine, but I cannot release this to you.”

[00:26:25] Because I, my job be under jeopardy because, again, you do couple of those things, you know, then you’re not going to be looked at as like somebody who is following policies and procedures, and they’ll find a way to get rid of you. They’ll find someone who will follow their policies and procedures and will follow what they’re doing. So, so like at the end of the day it comes down to the bottom line of like, you know, we’re here to save lives, but at the end of the day, if we’re not making money, like if we cannot stay open, like what are we doing? You know? So…

[00:26:53] Dr. JB: So I guess the question is then why are those medications available in the hospital in the first place if you can’t order them to give to your patient? So is it based off of the patient’s, like, insurance status? You know what I mean? Like you would think that if they’re too expensive, then why do we even have it? Right? If you don’t want me to use it, if you don’t want me to order it, why is that even an option for me to order?

[00:27:18] Dr. Manukyan: Yeah, there’s always exceptions. There’s always, you know, we have to have, you know, things available on the form because what if the medication that is the first choice, but the patient’s actually severely allergic to it, so we have to give them alternative, right? Even though it’s not the first choice. So you have to have those available on hand. We just, there’s so many different scenarios, usually allergies, um, and also like if they failed their previous therapies before too, so there’s always…

[00:27:46] Dr. JB: Got it.

[00:27:47] Dr. Manukyan: Is it just because it worked for somebody else, they want to prescribe it without trying other stuff? Or, really it’s like my poor doctors, we used to get so […] why we can’t approve certain things. I’m not kidding. Like, we were like, literally having like conversations of like, let’s dig in more, how can we get creative? Like to get something approved that you won’t get into trouble for ordering it, I will not get into trouble for like dispensing it, you know what I mean? It just, like becomes this game, we’re constantly fighting. Like, again, at the end of the day, we want to take care of our patients, but also remember, we’re working for someone else and we’re not the final decision makers, you know, as sad as it sounds, but we’re not, you know?

[00:28:33] Dr. JB: Yeah. And you know, from the perspective of the physician, that’s super frustrating for me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll order a medication for a patients and say I discharged them. Right? So they go to retail pharmacy to get it filled, and maybe later on that day, maybe the next day, I’ll get a phone call saying, “yeah, this patient that you saw, if they have insurance, oh, their insurance doesn’t cover X, Y, Z medication, and you need to prescribe a different one.”

[00:29:03]Dr. Manukyan:  Mhmm, you’re forced to make a decision. Like, you know, like there was a reason why you prescribe certain things, right? But again, someone else is dictating how you should practice medicine and that’s what kind of hurts me. And that’s why I had to say, you know, what, I’m tired of this world. Um, and that’s why I had to make this big decision to kind of walk away from that, you know, space and to create my own legacy so I, I can do what I want to do for my patients, for my clients, and I don’t have to justify why I’m recommending certain things. And really making an impact using my way, it may not be the best one, but I know it’s the best one for my patient at that moment, you know?

[00:29:46] Dr. JB: Got it. Got it. So tell me a little bit more about your day to day now.

[00:29:52] Dr. Manukyan: Well, nowadays, my life is a little bit hectic, while the kids are homeschooling and trying to be a mom and also a house cleaner. And when you’re living at home and working from home, it’s like every single moment I’m like, “ooh I should do laundry, ooh, I should go wash the dishes.” I’m like, okay, no, no, no, I’m working, this is my business hours, but I am like split between, um, spending most of my time on training my group of clinicians, where they come to me and they’re part of my network, so I can help them to start their own online practice. And about 20% of my time is actually seeing clients who are hiring me to help them to get healthy without pharmaceuticals, doing functional medicine, whether it is ordering specialty labs or doing supplements or just mindset in general.

[00:30:42] So I would say most of my day is on Zoom. We’re living in this world of Zoom and understanding like how I become, you know, not overworked, per se, because again, that can be very stressful too, when you’re sitting and staring at a computer like 10 hour days. And I’ve had those days and I have to like remind myself, nope, I need to cut down and I need to be, like, more owning my schedule and blocking out the times when I’m able to devote to myself. And a simple example, is like when the kids went back to school last month on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they’re physically in school for four hours a day, um, and I was like, oh my gosh, this is perfect on Thursdays and Fridays, I have these four hours of uninterrupted time and I’m just going to get so much work done. And next thing I know, I was like, oh my gosh, what the heck am I doing? Stop, time out. This is the time for myself.

[00:31:42] So I learned after one month of like going all in and working really hard, scheduling so many calls and so many appointments, and I’m like, no, this is not, this is not the time to work. This is my time. This is my time. The kids are in school, they’re enjoying their day. Those four hours, I drop them off to school at like 8:15ish, I literally go in and all I’m doing is starting my daily routine, having my coffee, listening to some podcasts. I love to start my day with some like, something motivational, with my running shoes on, go around the block, run for like an hour, hour and a half.

[00:32:24] When I say running, I’m talking about just jogging and walking, but again, being outside in the nature, enjoying the day, you know what I mean? Coming home, taking my time to like shower in peace, I don’t have to rush anywhere, you know, and then settling my schedule, okay, how’s my day going to look like the other half? And I don’t do, I don’t start working till like 1:00 PM, you know what I mean? But before I was like, let me just, just do so much because, oh my God, there’s nobody to disturb. I’m like, I don’t have to like make a small change in my schedule and not feeling guilty, cause we were talking about feeling also guilty to do something for ourselves, right? Saying like, nope, this is my time. You know what I mean? I have to show up in my own life so I can be present and I can deliver more, I can give more, and that was a decision I made like literally a few weeks ago because I realized the system that I had was broken. I’m like, nope, I gotta change it. So, and we just live, change, and learn from our mistakes. You know what I mean? Just surround ourself with people who are doing it and just kind of watch what works for them, it might also work for you, you know? Like this little change in my schedule, it actually makes me so more productive during the day, um, because I gave myself that time, alone time, and I can do whatever I want to do.

[00:33:50] Dr. JB: Exactly. I think that, you know, one of the biggest themes from our conversation today is the importance of really just taking care of yourself. Right?  You find yourself so busy, right? And you’re in the cycle of work, you come home from work, and you are physically present for your family, but not emotionally present, go to sleep, wake up, repeat. Right? And then your own personal health starts to spiral downwards, right? Things that you used to do, things that you used to enjoy, you’re not engaging with anymore. And then you start hating your life, and you, you start dreading going into work, you start dreading all different, all types of things, um, and that if you take a pause, take a breath and refocus and recenter, that things get better.

[00:34:54] Dr. Manukyan: Oh yes. Oh, my gosh, recenter, yes. Can we talk about that for a second? Because again, sometimes we’re on this like autopilot, we just go, go, go, go, go, and we never like stop to think and reevaluate what’s going on. Right? And oftentimes when I would see somebody like stopping, I would not understand the power of that. You know what I mean? I did not understand the power of why they’re doing this. Whether it is like, “hey, I’m going to take a seven day of social media detox, how you will not see me on social media for seven days,” whatever it is. Right? We don’t have to say, “oh, we’re going to take a whole month off.” No, we can be like, you know what? On the weekends, you will not find me on social media, it’s my time to myself, with my family, whatever it is. I didn’t understand the power of that ’til I started like understanding the power of that.

[00:35:44] And that’s exactly what I did last year, when I left my job in my hospital last year and I literally took like almost three months off trying to figure things out. Okay. And that kind of prepared me, like I had to slow down so I can speed up. And most people were like, “what?” “Has she really lost it? Like what just happened?” She just left her job, but she’s not talking about quote unquote, like a “business,” or seeing clients, or having patients. Like, I just literally took the time out just to figure it out, why I need to do the next step, how I’m going to execute it, and just like owning the time of like, okay, it’s my time.

[00:36:27] You know, we talked about this, you know, going from pharmacy school, you know, like getting the doctorate, doing a residency, moving across the state, you know what I mean? And starting a new job within a week of graduating residency. I mean, I never had that break to myself. And even with the kids too, like having the kids back to back, I never really took the time out for myself to slow down so I can speed up. And I know it was so needed last year, instead of just getting into like, again, massive action and like, go, go, go, go, go. I was like, nope. It’s time for me to, like, kind of recenter, like we were talking [about], realign, and figure it out. How I’m going to make an impact in this world and how I’m going to use my time to make that happen versus just going back to the old habits of autopilot and going with the flow. Um, I had to respect that decision and again, now looking back, I was like, that was the best decision I made, to slow down so I can speed up and getting laser-focused on why I’m doing things versus I’m just doing it just because, you know?

[00:37:35] Dr. JB: And realizing that when you start going forward again, that it’s not just reverting back to your old ways but it’s going forward with you, as an individual, being more central. With you intentionally carving out space for you to take care of you and your needs, carving out alone time or whatever it is you need to really allow you to continuously feel like a whole person so that you can give your all in your, the activities that you engage in throughout your day.

[00:38:16] Dr. Manukyan: Absolutely. Absolutely, and always like looking around the whole picture, like not just focusing the impact it’s making to your life now, but what’s the impact if you continue during that activity, like a year from now, two years from now. Also, focusing on the long-term goals and you know, your transformation you’re going to experience because sometimes we make decisions based on like, okay, I want this now and I want to do this now versus like, hey, if I put the pause on this one, and if I started this journey, whatever it is, tomorrow or a week from now, how is that going to look like long-term? And not making, you know, like long-term decisions on like, you know, short feelings that we’re experiencing right now, right? And just really honoring the process of being patient with ourselves too. And saying it is okay to, again, it’s okay to slow down, it’s okay to be– you know, we have to learn how to be patient and sometimes you don’t want to make like permanent decisions, long-term decisions based on like, short-term feelings that you’re experiencing right now. You know? You want to think of the big picture.

[00:39:25] Dr. JB: That’s true, that’s true. I mean, another thing that you mentioned was in terms of being an example and setting an example for your, your kids and your, and your family that it’s okay, like it’s okay to take care of yourself. It’s actually something that’s necessary. That it’s okay to make the space to, to take care of your needs, um, and to make sure that you’re okay, um, you know, every aspect of you is okay.

[00:39:57] Dr. Manukyan: Yeah. And, and I know a lot of that is very cultural for me too. You know? I was born and raised in Armenia, Eastern Europe, and I came to the states when I was 16 years old, and back home women don’t really have that space of “me time.” Back home, women are seen as you get married very young, um, a lot of the times it’s like arranged marriages, you know, between 16 and 18, you’re actually becoming someone’s wife that you might have just literally met. So that’s the space that I was living in and knowing that, okay, my mom didn’t do any self-care. Like, I didn’t understand what that meant. My grandma, like watching all these women around me, like putting their careers on hold so they can be a full-time mom and a wife. Right?

[00:40:43] And it kind of like brought all those old habits and how I was brought up, like, from like back home to here. And I was like, oh my gosh, I’m falling into the same trap of like, I’m like becoming my mom, per se. Right? I’m becoming, not in a bad way, but it’s like, I’m carrying on old traditions that don’t make sense anymore. And I feel like that’s what was going through my head if I, God forbid, I like gave myself time out to go do something for myself. And that’s why I ended up being morbidly obese at age 35, letting myself go because, again, if I did something for myself, everyone else around me, I was thinking, they’re going to be like, “wow, she doesn’t like her kids that much.” “She wants to like, escape and do something else.” You know what I mean? “She’s not, you know, taking this motherhood life serious, like look at her doing, like, girls trip, like with her friends.” You know what I mean?

[00:41:39] And I was like, whoa, like, I was so brainwashed of like, this is what I should be living my life as, and then I realized, no. Those, those were the feelings and things that I had to kind of let go of so I can make room to become the person who I am now. And, having a daughter myself, I’m like, I’m teaching her, like owning her life, like right now. If it makes you happy, baby girl, go ahead and do it. You don’t have to like really like, justify why you want to do it. As long as it’s safe, it’s making you happy, you’re not hurting yourself or someone else, you know, what I mean? Just do it. And that’s the bottom line, like teaching her how to become  a strong woman in a space, especially nowadays, like having her voice and not letting everyone else around her dictate her, what she can say or do, or live her life, because again, quote unquote, it’s not, you know, it’s not appropriate.

[00:42:37]Dr. JB: That’s right. And then even having boundaries, I think that that’s also something that is important. It’s important for us to teacher our kids, um, that you don’t have to say “yes” all the time, that it’s okay to say “no.” And just by saying “no” doesn’t mean that you won’t have XYZ opportunity, uh, because where, wherever, or whenever, one door closes, another one will always open and you have to be, like mentally and physically ready for the next door that will open.

[00:43:10] Dr. Manukyan: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

[00:43:12] Dr. JB: But that’s not what’s taught, that’s not taught in school.

[00:43:14] Dr. Manukyan: Nope. You have to be open to receive it, and sometimes life will give you the answer that you’re looking for but if we’re not open to receiving that, we’re just going to pass by it. But we just have to, like, really focus on what we want and give ourselves permission to receive it and accept it and learn from it because life is going to give you all the answers. It’s right there in front of you, you just have to be open to saying, “it’s my time.” It’s my time to rewrite my story. It’s my time to become the best version of myself and I’m not going to be apologizing for doing that. Right? Just being unapologetic for the pursuit of your happiness and your success.

[00:43:54] Dr. JB: Exactly. Exactly. So if my listener wants to get in touch with you, how would they be able to do that?

[00:44:04] Dr. Manukyan: The best way to get ahold of me I’m on the LinkedIn as Dr. Christine Manukyan, and on Instagram, Dr.  Christine Manukyan, you’ll see the same picture for all of them. But also if anybody is interested and excited to learn more, and maybe I gave them a little bit of an inspiration and now want to change their own life and they just want like 15 minutes just to hop on a call with me just to chat and just to connect, sometimes we need that too, feel free to join my website, it’s drchristinemanukyan.com and you can book like a 15 minute complimentary call. I just want to connect, and if I can make someone’s life better, I’m here for you. And I’m definitely someone who is an open book. So if you follow me on social media, if I’ve made any impact in your life, please tag me, please show me that you got into action.

[00:44:55] And my biggest thing, when I do podcast interviews, when I’m making connections, to me, like getting inspired does not excite me. I want your listeners to get into massive action. I want them yes, to get inspired, but if they’re going to get inspired, they’re going to listen, they’re just gonna move on with their day without taking action, I don’t think I’ve done my job. So if you’re listening right now and you’re feeling stuck, it doesn’t matter where it is in your life and what part of your life, okay, if you’re feeling stuck and if I said something that hits your heart, like, oh my gosh, like she’s speaking to me. Yes. I’m speaking to you. It’s time to get into action. It’s time to be able to be bold and unapologetic for pursuit of your success and your happiness. Share with us, like, what is it that you did and how we changed your life, like the actions you’ve taken. So, please do that. Please tag myself and Dr. JB, because we want to celebrate you. And the reason why we’re spending this time, having this incredible conversation is because we want to make an impact in someone’s life. And if this resonates with you, let’s connect, and please don’t forget to tag us so we can celebrate your success as well.

[00:46:07] Dr. JB: Exactly. I love the bold and unapologetic.

[00:46:11] Dr. Manukyan: Yes. I love to say, um, you know, if you’re around me, I will brainwash you because I’ll tell you there’s always that Wonder Woman inside you and I’m just going to help you to unleash it. So I’m all about Wonder Woman mindset and just keep going and going and being persistent and consistent in your life because you’re so capable and worthy of doing and accomplishing all your goals, and don’t let anybody, anybody to tell you otherwise.

[00:46:39]One thing I love to leave all my listeners is knowing that sometimes, you know, a lot of us get so excited about the journey, who we’re becoming, but there’s this beautiful quote and it’s by a Paul Cuelho, I believe I say his name right, and he talks about, you know, maybe the journey is not about becoming someone, maybe the journey is about un-becoming who you are so you can become the person you were meant to be. So understanding the power of constantly letting go of things that are not serving you, un-becoming the person who you thought you were, so you can make room to become this incredible person that you’re meant to be becoming. And it’s okay to do that. So maybe it is to let go of certain friends who are not helping you to get to your level of success that you want to have. Maybe it is finding a new community that is going to help you push it to the next level. It’s okay to let go of, you know, things that are not helping you, so you can actually learn how to learn again and become the next best version of yourself.

[00:47:49]Dr. JB: Yeah. That’s, that’s absolutely perfect. You know, there’s a lot of things that we are taught as healthcare professionals when we go through our training that we actually have to unlearn. One of them being that our needs can take a back seat burner, we could deal with that later, we need to say yes all the time to everything that comes our way so that our careers can grow. And it’s, it’s hurting us. And so you have to unlearn those, like un-become the person you, you have turned into to really become the person you’re meant to be. That’s absolutely beautiful.

[00:48:30] Dr. Manukyan: Yes, and yes, and yes.  So when you’re hearing this incredible conversation we have, share it with your friends, send this to somebody that needs to hear this, because, again, don’t be selfish. Don’t just absorb it yourself, share it with your loved ones and your friends. Exactly, and let’s make this as a movement. Together we are unstoppable.

[00:48:53] Dr. JB: Yeah. Who says a doc can’t rap? D O C T O R J B. The greatest doctor to ever touch the mic, the greatest podcast ever broadcasted or prerecorded. Come learn some, each one, teach one. I’m done.

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